Monday 4 March 2013

Goodbye for now...

I feel guilty so must put it too rest.
I started this blog for many reasons,
but to share and document my making was the primary.
So now I am packing my life into boxes, to move into rented,
while I do up a shell of a house (and workshop)
I wonder......what have I got to go on the blog now?
For example everything you see on the wall in this image
has all gone now, bare as a baby's bum it is.
I was a dedicated smoker for many years.
I always wanted to follow my Grandads example....
Have a workshop full of tobacco tins of interesting things.
The minute I could afford to buy tins of tobacco - used to cost me a £10, I was off.
I like the subtlety of the health warning in the old tins.
The newer ones ain't so pretty - ''YOU WILL DIE AND IT WILL HURT!''
Anyway been off the baccy for a long time now.
Glad I kept the tins - plenty more where these came from.
So what can I document now?
How long will I be away?
I reckon it will be a year (ahhh minimum) before my workshop is in order.
By that I mean the position where I might start
contemplating making non-important things like tools I do not need
and pretty boxes and twirly carvings.
Most of my time will be spent making things I do need.
Like a workshop, 75% bigger.
Safe, secure and nice house.
A Library and dens for my boys.
Oh yea I have this amazing idea.
It is called the 'RETREAT'
This is in the 5 year plan.
This is all a little too personal for the blog I wanted to write.
Do I show some empty pictures of this house?
Maybe some scary ones of the new house?
But I will come back, I promise.
I am continually amazed at how many hits come my way.
Considering I do not sell or advertise that is!
Thanks to those who have asked after me.
It is just the Blog does not seem to fit in with my Life now.

Thursday 14 February 2013

Japanese Hammer

I am making this from some Hex stock.
Garrick reckons it will harden up nicely.
So I will just harden the ends now - when I have time!
Ummm that right hand side is thinner...
Nearly there with the filing.
Lots of sweat created doing that centre section.
If only I had a power hammer and forge...
could do it properly then and punch a hole rather than cut it out.

You could fiddle around getting this nicer.
But I didn't.
Sometimes the exponential curve of effort against achievement,
just makes you get on with the bigger picture of learning.
I like learning.
I like it SO much more than teaching thats for sure.

Wednesday 13 February 2013

Packing up...

Packing up all the bits and bobs
ready for another day
brought a new house
hip hip hoorah
I do like my hooks
carved from apple branches

Candle Sconces

Made quickly and inspired by Japanese Geta (clogs)
They float off the wall.
The candle weight locks the slot onto the screw.

Japanese Tanto

I like to distill the essence of what I find beautiful.
In this case the form and proportions of a Tanto.
I sealed this one.
There is a surprise inside.
Perhaps one day after I am gone someone will break it open.
Then they will find something magical...

Monday 11 February 2013

Plum, Yew & Holly Mallet

Nice curve in the handle, inspired by Japanese Mallets I have seen.

This time I went for a chisel finish on the Plum head
(thanks John for the wood!)
And a smooth finish for the handle.
Wedged with Holly, all good local woods to me.

Airfix Time

My son wanted to build a tank.
So I got him a tank.
Lots of making for £9.50.

Wednesday 6 February 2013

Maths Challenge

Here's a maths challenge for you,
How do you make a regular tetrahedron from square stock?
The crux of the problem is the compound mitre joint that must be cut.
There is a 54 and 30 degree angle in there somewhere from memory.
I suppose I have not figured out the jig - I only have a band saw and circular saw, neither very good, made many jigs for this, feel silly really...
Also you can construct an equilateral triangle from square stock....
Just  by using a 45 degree mitre saw...
I was happy when I figured that one out!

Quick Update
Just thought I would add that this is my 222nd post.
The number 2 is very important to me.
Might be a while till I get to 2222....

More Mallets!

More Mallets to keep my hand in.
I rarely do not know the wood I have or am working with...
But I am unsure of the darker timber here.
The handle is in Hickory, collected and seasoned from a local source.
Slightly spalted, which seems to happen a lot around here!

Luckily the stamp is only blurry in the photo and not reality.
Someone asked me a while back if I was basing my designs on
Japanese Mallets I had seen, the answer is Yes.
These Barrel shaped mallets feel really nice to use.
The longer shape is OK, but there is something nice
about the compact nature of their form when you swing them.


Thursday 24 January 2013

One of the worlds biggest treehouses

This is a 6,000 square foot tree house and has walkways, cottages, shops, and even a restaurant, it can hold about 1,000 people and went I went back to Newcastle (spent about 10 years there growing up, school etc) my old mate Giles took me to play there.
In 2005 I think it was the worlds biggest?
It was such a cool day out.
Alnwick Garden in Northumberland.

Where are you now Giles?

You need a lot of supports under there!

Wednesday 23 January 2013

Geometric Structure

The things you find in the attic...
My obsession with Hyperbolic Paraboloid's...
The wonder of Anticlastic surfaces.
My attic is packed with stuff I have made and then just put into storage.
The jig for making these balls took a lot of working out.
I made the balls from Spray painted Plaster filled Ping Pong balls.
The weaving took hours and hours and hours.
The interference lines were supposed to make a sphere...
But I ran out of enthusiasm and patience and said 'that will do!'
We had some great tutors at college.
I could not figure out how to hold a sphere and accurately drill the holes.
So I went to the 3 best and each did me a set of sketches.
First the head of furniture design, Philip Hussey
(he has his work in Joyce's Furniture 'Bible')
Then the head of design and a metal working specialist,
Then the head of technical drawing.
Then my friends and family...
Every solution was really complex, what to do?
A big walk in the woods was always my way of figuring out the truth.
So off I went for a full day adventure...
And came up with something totally simple.
Easy to make, very accurate.
It taught me a lot this experience.
I was only 20 after all.
I have had similar experiences where a 15 year old
come up with better solutions to problems than me.
I spend every day solving huge numbers of making problems
with many materials and processes.
Do not trust that the older and wiser have the right answers.
Ignorance can be helpful when solving problems!
If you have too many tools at your disposal it can slow you down,
mind you the whole point is to speed you up...
We over complicate so many things in life.
What is the obsession with having the most tools?
I used to import and sell the most brilliant carvings,
these were done in Indonesia with ground off nails,
wood held with strong toes and carved with precision.
I don't mean go back to the woods,
go all primitive and that.
But it might save us all a few quid.
The idea of craft for the traditional Japanese craftsman
was to produce every day objects every day.
It is hard, messy work for little pay.
You did not choose to be a craftsman 
under any guise of romantic idealism.
You had to follow your Dad into business.
So many need to take off their
tinted work goggles and look at the dust settling.
What has happened to Japan is unbelievable.
Just read 'The Hare with Amber eyes' a very good read.
You could but Lacquer boxes for a dollar and sell them for silly profit.
I have been looking into the history and it scares me.
I have been looking into the Nanking Massacre that scared me too.
Must stop looking, must stop getting scared.
Why am I making so many mallets?
I think I have 8 on the go at the moment.
I am not even going to ask.
It does not even matter,
they are making themselves really.
Which is what it has always been about.
When you can stop thinking and it just happens right there...
Just at the edge of the blade, where the mind lets go,
because it is too fine to hold onto,
that is the point (pun intended)

Tuesday 22 January 2013

Saturday 19 January 2013

New Saw...

I need a fine saw for fine plane making.
So I cut this blade down and fitted a new handle from
an off cut of this Box I have been using lately.

Cheap flush cut on the right, cut down version on the left.
I really enjoyed hammering those Brass rivets home.
Its nice when you have all the right materials
just where you need them.
Kind of justifies you purchasing them all in the first place...
I have got some lovely hand made Japanese Saws lately.
2013 - the year of the Saw I think.
Got my files - vice on the way - more later...
Time to do what I did with planes to the saw.
2014 can be for the chisel.
I think I have figured out Mallets nearly...
However I am finding less time to do anything lately hence my
blog break, the longest yet I feel since I started?
Buying and selling houses is complicated.
The job is full on - OFSTED been and gone...
We all did very well in my department as always...!
I could tell some funny stories...
But I better not.
Been packing up some more of the workshop today.
Nothing major - but still, a strange process.
Stuck and snowed in at the moment.
2 young kids me and my lady all going stir crazy.
Workshop hovering around 1 - 6 degrees...
But when the heater is on all is good.
Small place heat fast - designing new workshop currently...
Not even got a house yet.
Trying not to be something I am not.
I am just a carver after all who hurt his hands,
pretending to be a cabinetmaker for his hobby.
Bit bored of planes now.
Still like mallets mind you -
time to sit and whittle a Magnolia handle now I think.
At this time of my life Philosophy is a luxury I cannot afford.
My mind is freed through pleasurable repetitive tasks.

Thursday 10 January 2013

Mitre plane in use...

 Had to modify the Wedge a little bit...

Full Length end grain shavings in Chestnut...

yes I can see it too...

Got the iron sharp and realised the whole problem was my stick in the mud
idea that old things are better eg old steel.
This is rubbish, just like the idea wood planes are
better than metal ones, OR
Japanese tools are better than other tools.
I took 10 end grain full length shavings with a newer Herring bros blade
and 10 with my really old antique one.
No contest, newer steel was better.
Bu not as good as A2 for its resistance...
So this Blade has gone and this shiny one takes its place.
I have now rounded the back of the iron and polished all edges.
I am proud of this plane and it took a few hours of fettling.
Get another photo done complete soon.
Unsure why I am here writing really....
OFSTED descended on my school today and will be observing
my teaching tomorrow...better finish my lesson plans...
Strange times at the moment.
Accepting an offer on my house and workshop puts it into perspective.
Got the bank round tomorrow.
Time to move - set up a new workshop.
Pack up my pride and Joy.
Could soon be a long break from making.
Took me years of doing up the house,
before I could justify making things in the workshop.
But we all dream of a bigger and better workshop,
this is exactly what I am looking forward too!

Thursday 3 January 2013

Spalted Box Mitre Plane Completed

Splated Box and African Blackwood.
6" x 2" x 1.25" with a 1.5" old Herring Brothers laminated steel blade.
(This needed a lot of linishing to get to work with the wedge)
Please note this snecked blade is NOT complete - little bit chunky for me.

Much nicer name stamp than their later one!

Time to work on the mouth and sole now.
Need a little tweaking to get that parallel.
Then I will publish the 'wood shaving shot' we all expect.
7 hours to get here so I am very pleased.
The last one took 16 hours and when chatting about times with David Barron
I said wanted to get them down to 10 hours and he thought that would be very good.
If there is anyone I know who knows about planes it is David,
so although just an amateur pottering around in my workshop,
I feel happier and more confident now, speeding up a little bit..
this also includes over half an hour correcting mistakes!!!
This is however smaller than the 8" x 2" x 1.5" first Mitre plane I made.
So I have another on the way, time is only relevant because I want to start
thinking about selling sometime. Building up some stock, I have my eyes
on hiring a table at a show, seeing if anyone is interested!

Some finished, some waiting..

There is going to be quite a few planes out of this Spalted Box I think!

I am salvaging this Hornbeam Dai currently.
Binned it as a momento of mistakes (I do that a lot)
But now think I can turn it into something special...

Meccano Time

Well my son wants to make a light armour Tank...
I have a lovely collection partly inherited, gifted and purchased
of original Meccano, including the Army edition!
He really likes that Khaki green, me too.
Got to keep this collection organised! - easy to get it all messed up.

Some of these instruction booklets are so old - the red ones for example.
They remind me of the story my 97 year old Grandmother likes to tell...
She says they used to save up and then go to the local corner store
and they would buy SINGLE pieces of Meccano, like a plate and 2 corner brackets,
because that is all they could afford!
I really like using the original square nuts and nothing shiny
is going on this tank, just the original black nuts, bolts and washers!

Spalted Box Mitre Plane - nearly done...

Nearing completion now.
Having a play with different wedges and blades.
Plenty of cleaning up to do.
Just over 4 hours now approx.

Tuesday 1 January 2013

25mm Osae-Hiki Nokogiri

I had to make a 25mm Saw blade for this mitre plane.
I have a few saws now, blade blanks and ones I can cut down.
Really getting into the Japanese hand made saw thing.
Sharpening, setting on the anvil, the whole works.
Practice, practice, practice.
Ultimate aim? I can make a saw to solve a problem.
I can understand, appreciate and justify the purchase of
hand made Japanese Saws.
Once I get OK I will post more on this.
This saw only needs to make a few cuts so I was not worried too much...

Basically I ground, filled, sanded and polished the blade thickness down.
As I had re set the teeth to have no set, you need to do this as otherwise t
he blade will bind of course!
Traditionally this is done with a Sen - as discussed in a previous post.
But I have not got round to resolving that one yet.
Mind you I know a man who can - and it has been mentioned...!

Handle might be a bit long here!
I now have all the traditional binging materials (in 2mm and 4mm)
as well as various coated wires,
so can get into this saw handle making as well.